Colorado executive suspends defense of marriage amendment

The two men made it clear they come down on opposite sides of the issue, however.
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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Governor's Office
Kirsten Andersen By Kirsten Andersen

Kirsten Andersen By Kirsten Andersen

DENVER, CO – Colorado’s Democratic governor and Republican attorney general filed a motion Wednesday asking a U.S. District Court to halt proceedings in the state’s defense of its constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers indicated they would prefer to suspend the state’s costly defense of the ban – which was passed by a majority of Colorado voters in 2006 – pending the outcome of the appeal of a recent 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that struck down a similar ban in neighboring Utah as “unconstitutional.” 

At the same time, the two men made it clear they come down on opposite sides of the issue.  While Hickenlooper told the public he believes the 10th Circuit’s decision to strike down Utah’s marriage protection law was the right call, Suthers asked the court to issue a stay preventing county clerks from giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples while the state waits on the outcome of Utah’s appeal.

“(Suthers) is not conceding anything," Ralph Ogden, a homosexual plaintiff in one of the cases challenging the Colorado marriage law, said in an interview with the Denver Post. Ogden told the paper he thought Suthers' request for a stay was a stalling tactic.

But Suthers said the suspension of the state’s defense “recognizes the reality of the legal landscape Colorado finds itself in at this moment.”

“If the 10th Circuit Court’s decision becomes the governing law, it will mean that Colorado’s marriage laws cannot stand,” Suthers said. “Until the Court’s decision becomes final, however, existing state laws remain in effect.”

On Thursday, a handful of openly homosexual state lawmakers called on the court to reject Suthers’ request for a stay and nullify the marriage protection law immediately.

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"There's nothing left to argue about,” Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman said in a statement.  “It's time to put a court-order in place enjoining the enforcement of our ban in Colorado. Let people be married and move on with their lives.”

In a statement, Gov. Hickenlooper said he is sympathetic to homosexuals’ impatience, but called Wednesday’s court filing "an important step that gets all Coloradans closer to receiving the same legal rights and opportunities.”

“We understand there is frustration with the lengthy judicial process, but waiting until the legal process is finished will ensure that marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples are not clouded by uncertainty,” Hickenlooper said.

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